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SEGA Neptune Micro-Review: Resonance of Fate (Xbox 360)

January 15, 2012

I am certain almost that anybody who visits this blog (and by visit, I man stumble upon it by accident and never comes back) knows just how much I simply love this game (see here and here). So obviously I’m going to do a review on this:

The Pitch:

Long time SquareEnix dev teams up with SEGA for a new type of RPG that trades the tradicional sword and sorcery model for firearms and more realistic setting. In a post apocalyptic world where the remaining survivors live inside a massive tower that has a machine that keeps them alive, players take control of three main protagonists who make ends meet as mercernaries for hire accepting jobs, but as the story progresses, not everything is what it seems. Like I stated before this RPG trades swords and magic for gunplay pure and simple in a sped-up version of a Strategy RPG where you wear down your opponents and then excecute them in a satisfying manner. Battles take place in a arena, where you can move your characters around and engage the enemy through Hero Actions that cost you a Battle hexagon, but be careful not not waste them, because it leaves you vulnerable. In order to attack an enemy you have to create scratch damage, which is a type of damage that is temporary and heals over time, so when you do scratch damage you then use another character that can do direct damage, thus converting it to permanent damage. Long story short: attack enemies with machine guns or grenades, then use your pistols to create direct damage. Rinse and repeat.

What I liked:

  • Less is more: I don’t want to sound like I’m badmouthing any particular JRPG, but playing this game makes feel like I’m going through a grand adventure without the obviously padded out content and the often overwhelming plot exposition and occasional phylosphical lectures, the plot is precise, to the point and doesn’t feel overcrowded;
  • New Game +: You can replay the game on roughly the same difficulty level, but with literally everything that you gained, items, currency, hexes, etc. Nothing more needs to be said;
  • Amazing soundtrack: Motoi Sakuraba, you have my personal thanks for this impressive piece of heavenly orchestral soundtrack mixed with some bizzare rock tunes;
  • The bigger they are, the harder they fall: Like stated before, while the game severly punishes you for making rash decisions, the level of gratification that you get when you defeat a major boss is indescribable. But should you fail, the game is more than happy to give a hand by exchanging ingame currency for another retry;
  • Save anywhere: Except during boss battles, I’m afraid, but handy on every other situation;
  • Solid voice-acting: Resonance of Fate spices things up with an ensemble cast made up of video game voice acting veterans and TV show voice actors and actresses, such as the always available Nolan North, TV veteran Scott Menville (Teen Titans, American Dad, Freakazoid) and even the Super Mario voice actor, all of them do their job perfectly;

What I didn’t like:

  • Difficulty: The game is hard. One minor mistake will have you watching that Game Over screen several times. It’s not an easy game to pick up, because unlike many JRPGs, you don’t have a tutorial or any scripted battle to show how to play, though there is an Arena section that do tell you how to do all that, but the game does not tell you that right away;
  • Unimpressive visuals: Sad to say, that for a 2010 game, the game engine is very sub-par when paired with other titles;
  • What exactly is the plot: I find myself asking that question over and over again, the story itself plays out like episodes of your average TV series and you are spoonfed with the larger picture, and only… only much later in the game does it actually click, that it not to say that the episodes aren’t bad, because you get to know the characters a little better, but it feels way too spaced out and the actual sense of danger is only too distant for you to get invested into it;

The Final Word:

I don’t know what else to say about the game itself other what I’ve said over and over again on this blog. Personally, I would say buy it. But on the same token, I know people are going to buckle down and give up on the game because of it’s penchant for making you suffer a lot even from minor mistakes. It’s one of those games that only hardcore gamers and critics like, but it won’t attract a more mainstream audience. It gets kudos, though, for makin’ something that’s vastly different from the average JRPG.

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